E-Invoicing - The catalyst for true financial process automation

The number of B2B e-invoices sent increased by 20 per cent worldwide in 2012, according to the latest Billentis E-Invoicing / E-Billing 2013 report sponsored by Basware.

The report shows that despite this significant growth, this is just five per cent of the total volume of invoices sent between businesses globally. At first glance this paints a less than glowing picture of e-invoicing adoption, but when you consider the continued year-on-year growth it becomes clear that awareness and traction is in fact strong and an initial platform on which accelerated uptake can take hold is now present across the market.

The report clearly shows that there is a growing realization of the proven benefits of e-invoicing, but there remains a continued and unhelpful reliance on rudimentary electronic and manual processes. For example, many organisations still exchange masses of PDF invoices via email.

But as the pressures for better cashflow visibility increases and regulatory imperatives come into force, so the need for more transparency and automation grows. Electronic and automated invoice processing is shown to result in savings of 60 to 80 per cent compared to traditional paper-based process.

What started from a need for high-volume invoice sender/receiver organisations to realise cost savings on bulky and complex financial processes is now evolving. It has become more pervasive, cheaper, simpler to use and more collaborative. There is also a clear trend towards a preference for complete optimisation of financial operations, and as such, e-invoicing is often viewed as a key component of a larger P2P automation initiative.

Simply put, all businesses benefit from being more connected to their suppliers and customers. This is the catalyst for 'connected commerce', which enables businesses to establish closer relationships. This in turn leads to easier, more transparent and more profitable buying and selling processes.

It’s clear from the Billentis survey that we are at a tipping point in the use of sophisticated e-invoicing systems. It's not going to be too long before the majority of companies will have moved to true e-invoicing practices and left behind paper and PDF processes.

The impact is cumulative, leading more businesses to encounter partner, supplier and customer organisations already benefiting from e-invoice use. These factors combine to increase not only the number of organisations adopting e-invoicing, but also the sophistication of financial strategies and the volume of invoices processed.

The growth rate for electronic exchange and archiving of bills/invoices are impressive, but the potential is still tremendous. It’s an exciting time for e-invoicing, and it’ll be interesting to see how the adoption curve looks over 2013 as the trend in uptake continues.

Over coming weeks I’ve asked Sami Nikula, Product Marketing lead for Basware e-Invoice offering, to explore key findings of the Billentis report. So, please look out for those!

Category: E-Invoicing